A bad credit score can have a  negative influence on many major aspects of your life, from your ability to secure loans when you need them most to your ability to rent an apartment. Nowadays, most landlords in NYC require a recent credit check with any application; therefore, if you’re suffering from a low credit score, it can very difficult to get approved for a rental apartment in this city.

That said, here are some tips on how to rent an apartment with bad credit. It won’t be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible!

1. Be honest about your credit score:

Be up-front and open for this question, and go a step further by preparing your responses in advance. Try not to feel attacked when this question arrises, but rather politely justify how you got there and even more significantly, explain how you are planning to restore your credit and which steps you are taking towards its improvement.

2. Take steps towards improvements

You can monitor your credit score by getting a free credit report online. Most landlords in NYC typically require credit scores from 700 and above. There are 3 major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian and they determine your credit-FICO score (your FICO score is based on your payment history and it’s the length, how much you use credit cards, loans history, credit utilization, etc.).

To improve your FICO score, you can take some of these steps:

  • Pay your bills on time,
  • Raise your credit limits,
  • Remove recent late payments,
  • Apply for and open new credit accounts (only if needed)
  • Don’t close unused credit cards, just pay them up and keep balances low on Credit Cards.

3. Make sure you can afford the apartment

Your apartment should cost you roughly 25-35% of your income, so make sure you are not overreaching, as this together with bad credit may look like a warning sign in the eyes of the landlords.

4. Gather references

Prepare documents to show your income, as well as bank statements and statements from your employer that confirm you’re employed and receive a salary. Show these bank statements to the potential landlords to express stability and confirm that you have available reserves. Also, don’t be afraid to move some money around beforehand to strengthen your bank statements.

5. Offer convenience

Show that you are serious and responsible by offering to set up automatic payments (bear in mind these require you to demonstrate that you have enough cash in your bank account to cover those automatic payments) or if you can afford it, agree to pay a few months rent upfront; this will make you stand out among other applicants and lessen the influence of your bad credit score.

6. Find a co-signer or roommate

Co-signers (with good credits), just like when you’re buying a new car, can vouch for you by co-signing with you. Just make sure that the co-signer is someone you trust, who also trusts you.

If you think you are still unable to afford it, you can always find a roommate and sign the lease together. Moreover, in many cases, if your roommate’s credit is good, the landlord may overlook your bad credit score.

7. Find a “no credit check apartment”

You always have the option to try and find apartments owned/rented by individuals and not companies; these landlords, more often than not, don’t pay attention to credit scores to the degree that managements do. 


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